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#1561334 - 11/20/10 04:28 PM Getting drunk before piano recital.
AlphaTerminus Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/08/09
Posts: 549
Loc: Iowa, USA
Ok. I just had my second piano recital ever. I've had 15 months of lessons and played by ear several years before that. I'm 38 and I played Bruce Hornsby's "The Way It Is" and "Linus and Lucy" today. I've played them really well in front of family and friends, and even at a banquet where I was just background music, and in a hospital lobby on a grand. But this stupid recital. I get up there and I see my hands shaking and I cannot stop them. I get through a stilted performance of "The Way It Is" after getting into a rhythm after a few messed up notes in the first measures. I skipped all the flourishes and variations that make it enjoyable and just held on to the safe script for dear life!

On to Linus and Lucy. Still Shaking. I worked all year on perfecting the middle parts with the swing rhythms. I did not even attempt them because my hands were shaking so much I knew I could not control the dexterity needed for those parts, so I just did a couple runs through the main theme and added a couple variations to make it longer and less boring.

My wife recorded it and I listened back and it wasn't terrible (I was the only person over 11 I think!!!) but it was boring because there was none of the fluidity and variations that I throw in that actually makes playing these songs enjoyable to listen to and to play.

The only positive thing I can say about my performance is that i played a completely wrong chord in a transition on "The Way It Is" and just went with it and threw in a couple other pretend measures with variants of the chord and made up some nonsense that actually sounded the most fluid and nuanced of the entire performance!

What gives? How does anyone deal with the shaky hands? Any tricks of the trade, or should I show up drunk to the next one????? I sure could probably play better!!!

P.S. My 11 year old daughter who has been taking lessons for the same time did great on an arrangement of Away In The Manger that she developed on her own with the approval of her teacher!
_________________________
Lessons since September 2009
Yamaha C6

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#1561338 - 11/20/10 04:38 PM Re: Getting drunk before piano recital. [Re: AlphaTerminus]
Peyton Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/02/06
Posts: 2555
Loc: Maine
.....drugs. smile

But seriously, you are not alone. My first adult recital I sat down and couldn't remember the first notes. It took me forever before I could actually play and then I got halfway through the Chopin piece and somehow ended up at the beginning.... I did that twice. And I could play it all with my eyes closed at home.

I still have a real hard time playing for people.
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#1561353 - 11/20/10 05:06 PM Re: Getting drunk before piano recital. [Re: AlphaTerminus]
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012


Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17786
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
Every cloud has a silver lining. Look at it this way: At least we got a very entertaining thread out of it! grin

Seriously, the only way to get over the anxiety is by doing it over and over again. I was a shaking, nervous wreck the first time I stood up in front of a classroom. Twenty-three years as a professor later, I can stroll in and deliver a 75 minute lecture in front of 125 students without the slightest twinge of nerves.

I'm not as confident on piano (I wish I were), but I am a heck of a lot better than I was a few years ago, and that's because I take every opportunity I can to play in front of other people. The one thing I haven't done is play in a formal recital experience like you did. I'm guessing I would be just as much as a wreck.

I will promise you this, though: Your next one will be easier, and the 20th recital easier yet. thumb
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Mason & Hamlin A -- 91997
My YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/pianomonica

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#1561367 - 11/20/10 05:30 PM Re: Getting drunk before piano recital. [Re: AlphaTerminus]
BB Player Offline


Registered: 11/17/06
Posts: 2625
Loc: Not in Texas
What Monica said. I've found that every time I "scaled up" in terms of either audience size or how much they were focused on me my nerves got the better of me. I'd get to where I could play comfortably as "background music" with friends around but as soon as someone strolled over and actually started to listen it all went south. Finally mastered that and tried starting off playing with a couple of friends listening from the beginning (before dinner) - disaster. Got to where I could do that OK, played for the first time in a nursing home - nightmare. And so forth.

Every step along the way takes experience to get to where nerves aren't as much of a factor and, at least for me, it doesn't take a whole lot of change to upset the apple cart. When someone like Horowitz calls the concert stage "the loneliest place on earth" and a pianist of Argerich' ability stops playing in solo recital altogether you've gotta believe the nerves never go away completely.
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Greg

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#1561427 - 11/20/10 08:05 PM Re: Getting drunk before piano recital. [Re: AlphaTerminus]
itsfreakingmeout Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/09/10
Posts: 706
Loc: Manassas, Virginia
alcohol may calm the nerves, but it doesn't help the playing!! lol believe me, I've tried
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if you're thinking about going into that house, don't.

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#1561451 - 11/20/10 09:25 PM Re: Getting drunk before piano recital. [Re: AlphaTerminus]
Mr Super-Hunky Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/17/05
Posts: 4239
Loc: Arizona.
Your problem is that of mind control. You don't have it yet.

You see, people are built with an inherent fear from the factory. Fear of the unknown.

You can't ever completely get rid of it (because you are built with it) but you can control it with practice and repetition.

The "practice and repetition" I am talking about does not refer to the piano piece you are playing but rather practicing and performing in front of others.

After numerous times performing before others, you will eventually gain confidense in yourself knowing that you are not going to die and are actually going to make it through the piece.

When you finally have enough confidense to perform in front of others you will be able to spend all your attention to the piece at hand and not just on survival skills. (not allowing others to see your hands shake, squirm etc).

Bottom line, you MUST perform in front of others frequently and on a regular basis in order to gain the confidense in yourself you need.

The problem is NOT your playing abilities since you obviously can play the piece at home fine. The problem is in your lack of confidense in yourself to be able to perform the piece without choking with others watching.

You need more confidense and you need to play in front of others as much as you can. If you do this, you will eventually realize that you CAN make it through an entire piece with no crack ups and your confidense in yourself will begin to flourish from there.

Trusr me, we have all been there.

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#1561536 - 11/21/10 01:25 AM Re: Getting drunk before piano recital. [Re: AlphaTerminus]
crogersrx Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/25/08
Posts: 712
Loc: San Francisco, CA
I know what you're going through. I have played for years, but there was a long gap in between my 20's and late thirties. When I first started playing at recitals, I was so nervous, I always screwed up. I started going to a "piano club" with adult amatures. We get together about every 10 weeks and play in front of each other. It's a fairly relaxed environment, but I still was nervous, for the first few, but now, not so much. The last one, I played a pretty difficult piece, and I played it by memory. At one point, I totally lostmy memoryt of what came next. Luckily, I knew the piece so well I improvised a bit and got back on track and ended -- I was really upset that I screwed it up, but everyone else thought it was great.

The important thing is, know your piece really well, play it by memory for your instructor at least a month before the recital, then keep playing and refining it. That helps you to develop fixes for when you flub it up. After a handful of recitals, the nervousness will decrease.
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San Francisco, CA
1887 Knabe 6'4" (Rebuilt)

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#1561544 - 11/21/10 01:53 AM Re: Getting drunk before piano recital. [Re: AlphaTerminus]
chopin_r_us Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/17/10
Posts: 958
Loc: UK
Maybe it's a mistake to expect it to be any other way? I've never met anyone who didn't have doubts when performing in public.

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#1561549 - 11/21/10 02:14 AM Re: Getting drunk before piano recital. [Re: chopin_r_us]
david_a Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 2913
Originally Posted By: chopin_r_us
Maybe it's a mistake to expect it to be any other way? I've never met anyone who didn't have doubts when performing in public.
Oh, I have. They're idiots, and they play really badly. smile

In an autobiographical work of one of his students, I read of Edwin Fischer cowering in the corner before a concert saying "I can't, I can't!" (well, he wasn't saying it in English but it doesn't matter...)

If greats like Fischer were sometimes afraid to go on the stage, then I don't feel so bad - or quite so alone out there.
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#1561583 - 11/21/10 04:27 AM Re: Getting drunk before piano recital. [Re: AlphaTerminus]
PaperClip Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/21/09
Posts: 522
Loc: Amsterdam, Holland
You could use beta blockers. But that would be the same as a sporter using anabolic steroids. It enhances, definitely. Still its a way of cheating. Its said that 30% of professional musicians use them.

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#1561658 - 11/21/10 09:40 AM Re: Getting drunk before piano recital. [Re: AlphaTerminus]
malkin Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/18/09
Posts: 2604
Loc: *sigh* Salt Lake City
Even if I'm not nervous, (which I sometimes am) I get distracted and then make mistakes. This even happens at home if there is noise outside or my budgies decide to sing along.

Learning better focus would certainly help.
_________________________
A good student is one who makes the teacher feel like a good teacher.

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#1561684 - 11/21/10 10:56 AM Re: Getting drunk before piano recital. [Re: AlphaTerminus]
JeanieA Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/03/04
Posts: 507
Loc: Reno, Nevada
Welcome to the club! You've described just about every adult's first recital experience...I know you described mine. Isn't it sad the pressure we put on ourselves to be 'good' at something, even though we're learning right along with those 7 year olds? Can't make a mistake, I'm an adult!

It does get better, but I've found a little red wine beforehand doesn't hurt!


Edited by JeanieA (11/21/10 01:07 PM)
Edit Reason: typo
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#1561696 - 11/21/10 11:27 AM Re: Getting drunk before piano recital. [Re: AlphaTerminus]
TrapperJohn Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/11/08
Posts: 3577
Loc: Chocolatetown, USA
You're nervous because you're worried about making mistakes - and you're worried about making mistakes because you're concerned about what people in your audience are going to think/say about your playing abilities - I'd like to say that you shouldn't give a damn what they say or think, but you will anyway (we just can't help it).

So that's no help - but maybe it might be some help to consider that the majority of the people in any given audience either don't care if you make some mistakes (they're either clueless and don't recognize your mistakes as mistakes, or unconcerned because they haven't paid anything to hear you play and could care less how well you play), or they aren't listening in the first place (mostly). And this is true for most people at the concert of a world-class pianist also - so don't take it personally.

Does that help? Probably not - but you might want to keep it in mind. Also, there's always a few nasty people around who are actually hoping, out of spite or envy, that you will make a lot of mistakes and look like a miserable excuse for an entertainer - so to get revenge your only option is to play well! ("Success is the sweetest form of revenge" - either Shakespeare of George Bush, I can't quite remember laugh ).

JF
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Every difficulty slurred over will be a ghost to disturb your repose later on. Frederic Chopin

Current favorite bumper sticker: Wag more, bark less.

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#1561859 - 11/21/10 05:15 PM Re: Getting drunk before piano recital. [Re: AlphaTerminus]
saerra Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/28/07
Posts: 842
Loc: Atlanta, GA
AlphaTerminus,

If I'm reading your post right - it sounds like you actually did a pretty good job of keeping your wits about you. It *sounds* like you were still able to process what was going on around you, and adjust your playing (ie skip harder parts, make sure you actually hit the right chord at the end).

That's still pretty awesome. Much better than me wink as I go into complete freak-out mode and my mind is pretty much blank mush!

I think it's natural to get nervous... even if you know there's nothing to be scared of, it's still nervewracking being the center of all that attention, and knowing people are expecting you to not mess up!

I think everyone else hit it exactly right, practice playing in front of people as much as you can - go to the piano store and play, drag friends over and play, ... I think it was Monica who mentioned once playing for the contracters who were working on her home (hey, captive audience!)

But also, don't be too hard on yourself. It sounds like you may have done better than you think! smile

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#1561888 - 11/21/10 05:55 PM Re: Getting drunk before piano recital. [Re: AlphaTerminus]
PhilzPiano Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/20/09
Posts: 113
Loc: UK
Alcohol and piano playing don't mix! I discovered this at home when having a relaxed playing / practice session on a Saturday night, whilst sipping a couple of glasses of wine. It's amazing how quickly your fingers start to make errors! I wouldn't drink a drop before a formal recital - you are asking for trouble!

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#1561890 - 11/21/10 05:58 PM Re: Getting drunk before piano recital. [Re: AlphaTerminus]
AlphaTerminus Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/08/09
Posts: 549
Loc: Iowa, USA
I already take metoprolol (beta blocker) anyway... didn't work! (Maybe it only works if you don't take it every day. I suppose I could double up next time, but I might pass out from hypotension!)

Here is the recital that began this thread!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E5i74kLU_dc
_________________________
Lessons since September 2009
Yamaha C6

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#1561903 - 11/21/10 06:17 PM Re: Getting drunk before piano recital. [Re: AlphaTerminus]
Jeff Clef Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/05/08
Posts: 4425
Loc: San Jose, CA
Besides the very good advice you've already gotten, I might suggest you cultivate at least a little rapport with the audience. Smile a bit, think of them as being on your side and wanting you to do well, and make it be about the music. Breathe--- it really helps break up tension--- and remember that the attention the audience is giving you is an honor, not a horror. Both sides, you and they, are receiving a beautiful and delightful gift. And if something goes awry--- so what. Pick yourself up and keep going. Your listeners will also honor that.
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Clef


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#1561911 - 11/21/10 06:29 PM Re: Getting drunk before piano recital. [Re: AlphaTerminus]
MaryBee Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/21/09
Posts: 1212
Loc: Cleveland, OH
So I'm not the only one! I played today at a family recital and there were a couple of places where I messed up pretty bad. The funny thing was, the only one who noticed was my husband (since he's heard me play it so many times before). Everyone else just said how beautiful it was! The other funny thing was that right in the middle of it, my little nephew who is not quite two years old started singing "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" as loud as he could. laugh It's kind of hard to concentrate on playing when you're laughing.

I did have a glass of wine afterward.
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Mary Bee
Current mantra: Play outside the box.
XVI-XXXIV

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#1561999 - 11/21/10 09:49 PM Re: Getting drunk before piano recital. [Re: AlphaTerminus]
Rickster Offline


Registered: 03/25/06
Posts: 8563
Loc: Georgia, USA
Just wait until you screw-up in front of 2500+ people and all your coworkers… I know what that’s like.

I learned a valuable lesson though… the art of recovery … smile

Don’t be afraid to perform in front of others (I need to take my own advice grin).

I like what Mr. Super-Hunky had to say…

Rick
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Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel

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#1562008 - 11/21/10 10:17 PM Re: Getting drunk before piano recital. [Re: AlphaTerminus]
BillM Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/12/08
Posts: 1520
Loc: Maryland
AlphaTerminus - I don't know - I think you nailed the Bruce Hornsby. Even though I've never heard it done as an instrumental before and kept waiting for the vocal to kick in it was quite enjoyable. The Charlie Brown seemed a little rushed, probably from nerves, but overall pretty good.

The piano that you and your daughter used has a very nice tone.
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Roland KR-17M
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#1562074 - 11/21/10 11:48 PM Re: Getting drunk before piano recital. [Re: AlphaTerminus]
saerra Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/28/07
Posts: 842
Loc: Atlanta, GA
I thought they sounded pretty good too... much more fluid than I usually manage.

Do you think it might have helped to have taken a second between them to take a breath? It kind of felt like you just jumped right into Linus and Lucy, I'm wondering if a couple seconds to center yourself would have been useful at all...

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#1562134 - 11/22/10 02:32 AM Re: Getting drunk before piano recital. [Re: AlphaTerminus]
AlphaTerminus Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/08/09
Posts: 549
Loc: Iowa, USA
Yes I probably should have taken more time between the two.

Honestly I was supposed to work (I work in the ER) the day of the performance and found out 2 days prior that I would be able to come.

I pulled out a couple songs that I can play blindfolded in lessons or at home but was just shocked when my fingers started shaking.

In reality, while playing I thought both songs were disasters. "The Way It Is" sounded better than I thought when listening back (it achieved about 70% of my best rendition), but "Linus and Lucy" was about what I thought it went like, which was bad (about 20% of my best rendition, and not half as good as it sounded last year!)

What's stupid is I don't think I was nervous to look like a fool. This was a short a.m. session and there were only about 20 performances, mostly from my daughter's age and younger... very simple pieces. Many more advanced students played later in the day. So people enjoyed them anyway as most of the 25-45 year old parents know and love those 2 songs. I played two pieces because I wasn't nervous when I found out I was in the recital and enjoy playing for company and in public places where I'm just not the center of attention.

So I'm just disappointed in my own reaction to the pressure and wasn't embarrassed as no one in the room except my teacher, wife, and daughter... and myself, had any expectations... and they have all heard me at my best.

Thanks for all your suggestions!

(So in summary next year, exactly 30 minutes before I go on, I will take a Xanax, a Metoprolol, and wash it down with 2 gin and tonics and eat a banana!)
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Lessons since September 2009
Yamaha C6

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